On our last morning in Venice, I awoke at 630 and hustled one last time down to Piazza San Marco for another crowd free Venetian morning. I was glad of my decision as the sun rose and tinted the sky a pale pink. Again, only photographers and very early morning workers were out and about. It was peaceful and beautiful. I arrived into the piazza earlier than a few days before, and moments before the lights lining the square were shut off.
We departed Venice on a train to Verona, a short one hour ride. We had one last Grand Canal tour as we boarded the water bus for the trip to the train station. Once again we had trouble printing our tickets, and came to the conclusion that it may be better to buy tickets ‘day of’ instead of having reservations that require a confirmation code to be punched into a reluctant Italian automated ticket machine.
However, we did make it to Verona and here is where Rick Steves started to earn his credibility back, having lost it over a less than stellar restaurant recommendation. The pick up time for our B & B wasn’t until 6 pm so we had nearly 6 hours of touring and, unfortunately, all of our luggage. Rick Steves’ book directed us to the baggage hold area where we paid 6 Euros per bag to hold our luggage for 5 hours. At 18 Euros (I had one large and two small hand bags which they counted individually) I thought it a steep price, but we had no other options.
Another Rick Steves tip had us boarding the 1.80 Euro bus to the center of the town near the arena, saving us a long walk. Once at the arena, the area has many pedestrian only streets. We found a nice looking restaurant a short walk up one street and had the best meal in days. Unfortunately, our meals in Venice were less than wonderful. Normally I research recommended places to eat, but didn’t for this trip. I have had good food in Venice before, but not this time. It was mostly over-priced and nothing to write home about.
After lunch we followed the walking tour and meandered from the Roman Arena towards the Piazza delle Erbe. We found Verona, at least the old center, to be quite clean and scenic. There is evidence all around of the Roman influence, with the arena, city wall and Roman Bridge as a few examples. We also stopped in to witness the spectacle of the Juliet House. Here an enterprising individual installed a balcony and claimed it to be Juliet’s. Her statue is in the courtyard. It was packed with tourists despite the fact that Romeo and Juliet is a work of fiction and Shakespeare had never been to Verona before writing his play. However, there was a history of feuding families in the area, so who knows.
We walked all over the old town center area and also found the best gelato of the trip so far at Amorino, all natural gelato (http://www.amorino.com/en/). We enjoyed the many pedestrian streets, colorful buildings, cleanliness and the good food.
Back at the train station, we waited at the curb as our ride, B & B proprietor Romy Rocker, pulled up to whisk us out of town and into the hills overlooking Verona. Normally this is not a service they provide, and we were thankful for the lift. Romy Rocker B & B is about 20 to 30 minutes out of town, up in the hills. As Romy drove us to her home, she explained that she was the first B & B in the area, started about 25 years ago. Most guests stay for a few days, arriving by rental car. We hadn’t really realized how far out of town it was, but were very pleased to spend a night in the quiet countryside surrounded by vineyards and olive trees. It was a scenic ride to their piece of heaven and our hosts, Romy Rocker and Claudio Bartolamai were gracious and kind.
We enjoyed a local welcome drink and a view of the lights of Verona spread out before us. Claudio entertained us with tails of his recent stint playing the double bass in Palermo, and other venues, including Carnegie Hall. We then walked the short distance into the tiny town of Trezzolano for dinner. The small restaurant was a few minutes walk up the hill and worlds apart from where we had been for the past four days. We had homemade pasta with mushrooms and tomatoes and the local wine. It was a truly tasty and satisfying meal for 10 Euros each, and a bargain for the best meal of the trip so far.